The upcoming Grandma’s Marathon will close and reroute streets throughout Duluth, but some residents of the blocked-off areas aren’t concerned about being stuck.
The marathon will close several street blocks and reroute highways along its route. For those affected by closures or preparing to attend Saturday’s marathon, planning and patience is recommended to make it through the day, many say.
Officials say they expect backups — as they have in years past — because Interstate 35 traffic will be rerouted through downtown, London Road will be completely closed and streets accessing Canal Park will be limited, among other detours and closures.
“Plan your routes. Be patient. Be aware of what’s closed and how (you) can get to the places (you) need to,” said Tom Maida, special-events coordinator with the Duluth Police Department’s traffic unit.
Shirley Wuchter lives along London Road, which will be completely closed for much of the race day. During the marathon, she doesn’t go far, as her favorite place to watch runners is from her front yard.
For Wuchter, being bound to London Road is “a very neighborly event,” she said. She’s joined by others from London Road who also set up chairs outside for front-row seats.
“A lot of times people take a break, and they start walking down the street. … That’s the one time we actually see neighbors and visit neighbors,” she said. “We see people out that we've never seen before, and we make new friends.”
Fellow London Road neighbor Christine Raso agrees. Staying home is the best way to take in the marathon, she said, because she hosts people for the race and meets neighbors.
“I look forward to it every year,” Raso said. “And I always have a lot of company.”
When she moved into the neighborhood in 2002, it happened to be the day before the marathon — giving Raso an opportunity to meet many of her neighbors.
“It was kind of a baptism by fire to Duluth and Grandma's Marathon,” she said.
If she has to leave her house and drive somewhere, Wuchter will park a car on a side street that can access Superior Street. Raso said she does the same if she knows she has to use a car.
For those heading to the London Road area for the race, Raso said she recommends parking several streets away, walking to the race area and then “enjoy(ing) the day.”
Wuchter’s advice to those attending the event? “Put on your walking shoes,” she said.
Here are the weekend's closures, detours and possible traffic delays, according to a Duluth Police Department traffic advisory.
- "Short" delays between Buchanan Street and Morse Street from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. as a temporary bridge is installed over Canal Park Drive.
- Canal Park Drive from Railroad Street to Buchanan Street will close to most traffic. Those in hotels along Canal Park Drive will have limited use of the road to get to their hotels. Canal Park Drive will stay closed until the marathon is done on Saturday.
- Harbor Drive behind the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center will be closed starting at 3 p.m.
- Parts of Railroad Street from Lake Avenue to Pier B Resort will close at 5:30 p.m. until the William A. Irvin 5K is finished.
- There will be "no parking" areas along Railroad Street, Lake Place Drive and Harbor Drive.
- Southbound traffic on Fifth Avenue West can access the DECC parking lot via Railroad Street during the race.
- The Great Lakes Aquarium parking lot will not be accessible from 5:45 p.m. to around 6:30 p.m.
- Access to the DECC is only available via the North Gate on Railroad Street.
- Most traffic is expected to "return to normal" by 7:30 p.m.
- Scenic Highway 61 between McQuade Road and Ryan Road will close at 4 a.m.
- The rest of Scenic Highway 61 from Two Harbors to Duluth will close at 4:15 a.m.
- There will be additional signs and lane closures along the Highway 61 Expressway starting at 4:15 a.m.
- Lakewood, Homestead, Ryan and McQuade roads will be closed from the Highway 61 Expressway to Scenic Highway 61 at 4:15 a.m.
- Harbor Drive from the DECC East Gate to the Aquarium will be bus-only at 4:30 a.m., and then close to all traffic at 5:45 a.m.
- Most streets leading to London Road will close at 4:30 a.m.
- These roads will close at 5:45 a.m. until the marathon is done: London Road, Superior Street from 12th Avenue East to Third Avenue East, Michigan Street from Fourth Avenue East to Fifth Avenue West, Railroad Street, Lake Place Drive, Canal Park Drive.
- Northbound lanes of I-35 from Mesaba Avenue to 26th Avenue East will be closed at 5:45 a.m. Traffic will be rerouted to Mesaba Avenue and then to Second Street.
- Traffic going west on First Street won't be able to access Mesaba Avenue starting at 5 a.m. Traffic will be rerouted to Superior Street and I-35 at Sixth Avenue West
- Most roads will reopen by 2 p.m.
- Park Point and Canal park can only be accessed on Lake Avenue from Superior Street.
- The DECC and Bayfront area can be accessed via Fifth Avenue or Garfield Avenue to Railroad Street.
- London Road is accessible only by parking in the streets above and then walking down.
- People can reach the Duluth Depot, Duluth Public Library and Gateway Tower Apartments from Superior Street to Sixth Avenue West.
- Traffic going north on I-35 will be routed from Mesaba Avenue to Second Street.
- Traffic going south on I-35 will use Superior Street from Highway 61 Expressway.
- Parking is not allowed at any point along the race course.
- To park near Canal Park, it's suggested to park near the Bayfront Festival Park, the DECC, the Aquarium's parking lot, in the downtown area or near Lake Avenue.